For my research paper I will delve into the discussion of the media’s negative contribution to the concerning phenomenon of school shootings. I intend to prove that media sensationalism has not only caused the desire for notoriety among the youth but also the increased rate and lethality of school shootings. I will propose that, if my hypothesis is proven true, legislation should make the move to regulate media coverage of mass shooting offenders and possibly ban reporting their personal details altogether. There is, however, the possibility that media sensationalism has merely created a moral panic but not increased incidents. I intend to determine, over the semester, which of these arguments holds more water.
1. Media fame for shooters: Does mass media encourage copycat crimes?
Background: This essay examines the effect of media coverage of school shootings that focus on the offender. It discusses the ethical debate prevalent in journalism: is media sensationalism and the constant focus on offenders contributing to copycat offenses? It presents not only the direct but indirect role of the media in school shootings as well.
How I intend to use it: Present the evidence that the media is, in fact, contributing both directly and indirectly to copycat offenses by people seeking fame in the media.
2. Fame-seeking rampage shooters: Initial findings and empirical predictions
Background: This study reports on the concerning increase of mass shooters seeking fame. It also reports that the United States has a disproportionate number of these types of offenders. Fame-seeking mass shooters tend to be significantly younger and more violent than other offenders.
How I intend to use it: To illustrate just how much more prevalent and dangerous fame-seeking shooters have become, as well as discuss the growing number of younger people becoming offenders. It’s important to not only provide evidence that these fame-seeking mass shooters are becoming more prevalent, but also to show just how much more threatening they’ve become.
3. School crime policy changes: The impact of recent highly-publicized school crimes
Background: This study examines the impact of school crimes on campus policy. Highly publicized school shootings have raised fears and concerns among parents and school administrators. They have caused many children to feel less safe.
How I intend to use it: To illustrate that media sensationalism may perhaps be overestimating rather than contributing to the threat of mass shootings in America’s schools. It’s a major counterpoint worth considering as I delve more deeply into researching the topic. It also suggests more effective alternative ways to tackle school shootings.
4. The Effects of Media Coverage on Mass Shootings in the United States
Background: This study notes how the rise in mass shootings is correlated with the rise in media coverage of mass shootings. It presents not only the effect of media coverage of mass shooting offenders on future incidents but also HOW this phenomenon has fueled the rise in these fame-seeking shooters.
How I intend to use it: To show primarily how increased media coverage of mass shootings has contributed to the rise in shooting incidents.
5. School shootings, the media, and public fear: Ingredients for a moral panic
Background: The coverage of school shootings has indeed raised public fear of future incidents. But empirical data suggest that America’s schools are safer than ever. This study takes a look at the role of the media in school shootings and violence among the youth.
How I intend to use it: To present evidence that media sensationalism HAS made a negative effect, but merely on moral panic; not increased school shootings.
I’m confident on my ability to thoroughly research this topic, Professor Hodges. But I’m curious; the amount of research done on this topic pales to that of the idea of legalizing marijuana or the question of abortion, but I’m still questioning whether this idea is “new” enough to warrant a research paper. What do you think?
The topic is certainly worthy of research, Tenere. Regarding whether it’s “counterintuitive enough,” I propose that we permit the process to work itself out. Read with a mind open to surprise and recognize the counterintuitivity when you find it. The first opening that occurs to me is to question whether a youth motivated by a desire for notoriety (fame, grandeur, infamy) would choose an approach that so often leads to immediate death. So few mass shooters survive the act we have to question whether the shooters are satisfied with posthumous fame.